April 14, 2016


Our James Bond community was recently treated to a collection of new 007 book-cover designs created by Stuart Basinger. Basinger was inspired by the iconic Pan and Signet jackets published in the UK and US during the late 1950s and 1960s. Working from those major motifs, and using images from vintage magazines, he was able to include titles never seen during the original heyday of these publishers, including short stories by Ian Fleming and continuation stories by Robert Markham (Kingsley Amis), John Gardner and Raymond Benson. Below you will also see Fleming titles which appeared after Signet and Pan changed their design campaigns. I sat down with Basinger in the Spy Vibe lair this week to chat about artwork, his first Bonds, and about the world of 1960s spies. Welcome Stuart!

First of all, great job on these book covers! Do you work in design professionally?

Somewhat, I am currently a television news video editor for the Fox News Channel in Washington, DC.  I also make the graphics for the evening news package that I am assigned to which involves Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. As for graphics training I am self-taught with some online tutorials that can be found on YouTube. Before Fox News I was an editor at post-production houses around town doing anything from local commercials, corporate videos and documentaries.

How did you get into this kind of process?

I use to run my own James Bond website called Dr. Shatterhand’s Botanical Garden, which has since evolved into a Facebook group. I tried to visually make my website attractive by incorporating poster art and photos into articles and interviews. Back in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, I was using a inexpensive graphics program called Ulead’s Photo Impact. It was a great little program that really helped make some fantastic graphics. Now that I have Photoshop, the tools are easier and more precise. You can make a professional looking artwork in a relatively short time. I’m starting to sound like a commercial.

Tell me about your first James Bond experience. When did you become a fan?

I was a fan of Bond and the 60s spy craze from the moment I was able to walk over and change the channel on the black and white TV knob (we did not have remotes back then). As for my first experience I would have to say I was exposed to the world of OO7 at the age of 3 in 1963. I vaguely remember my parents taking my brothers and me to the theater to see Dr. No and another movie. I slept through most of it, but the iconic music stayed with me forever. I do remember seeing Bond fight Dr. No on the atomic reactor and the part where he sinks below the boiling water. The next three movies were also a blur due to my age but by the age of 7 in 1967, You Only Live Twice came to the local theater. It was the summer movie event that has been etched in my memory. I even wrote an article about that experience for my website.

Did you collect the Fleming novels growing up?

My father had a paperback copy of Signet’s Doctor No, but it got tossed out before I was old enough to read it. My late grandfather had a copy of Signet’s For Your Eyes Only paperback, which I inherited in 1973. I must have read it to pieces because it fell apart and I ended up getting a replacement from a used bookstore or somewhere. Anyhow, I was in 7th grade when a close friend was reading the Bantam copy of Doctor No. Of course we both shared a love for spy thrillers and I wanted to know how good the book was, so we had day-to-day discussions about Ian Fleming and other authors such as Alistair MacLean and Donald Hamilton.

Cool! For Your Eyes Only remains one of my favorite 007 reads! What came next?

Live and Let Die was soon to be released at the theater and I was hoping to find a copy of the book to read before it came out. My friend invited me over to his house so I could borrow the book. When I got there he had all of Fleming's books except for The Spy Who Loved Me. The majority was Signet books and the others were Bantam such as Diamonds Are Forever (the movie poster version), Moonraker, Goldfinger, Casino Royale, and From Russia with Love. The artwork was so cool to look at because of the little movie posters showing various scenes from the novel. I was hooked, and excited to see on the back of the book was a list of the other Fleming novels and that The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only had yet to be made into films (Octopussy was not listed). But the artwork! Those little horizontal montages of color painted by the late Barye Phillips were proverbial keyholes into the world of James Bond.

When Live and Let Die opened, Bantam books released their version of Fleming’s novel with the movie poster as the cover. A few weeks later my father bought me the Signet version of Moonraker and then in late 1973, after an impressive report card, he bought me The Man with the Golden Gun. By Christmas I received Casino Royale, Diamonds Are Forever, Doctor No, From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Thunderball. Both Thunderball and Casino Royale had their movie poster versions on the front cover, but the others were Barye’s artwork, which just mesmerized me for weeks.

As I grew up a teenager in the 1970s, the local used bookstores near my house would be the place I would find other books such as The Spy Who Loved Me and You Only Live Twice. Also, I was amazed that Signet and Bantam were not the only publishing companies that had OO7 in paperback. Jove books did a short series culminating around the film For Your Eyes Only. The front covers looked Americanized but still attractive. In the mid-1980s Grove Press reissued James Bond: The Authorized Biography of OO7 by John Pearson. I had read the hardback when I found it at my local library, but I was not ready for the very cool and sexy artwork by Linda Kosarin. She had captured the misogynistic world of Bond with two beautiful women and OO7 sitting in a Hospitality Rattan Peacock wicker chair. By the 1990s I was on the lookout for the rarer Bond paperbacks such as the earlier Signet books with full artwork, the Great Pan versions from the UK, the Perma Books series with a strangled Gala Brand in Too Hot To Handle (AKA Moonraker) and Popular Library’s retitled Casino RoyaleYou Asked For It with a snarky Jimmy Bond and an oversexed Vesper.  Both took a while to get since they tend to be pricey. Perma Books also did Diamonds Are Forever with a woman (Tiffany Case) being strangled with her necklace, and Live and Let Die with a captured Bond in the underwater cove, a tied up Solitaire, and Mr. Big  counting his gold coins on a nearby table. These books and their artwork obviously were a thing of the past since nowadays you would not see this kind of artwork that depicts violence against women. The recent Penguin Books with artwork by Richie Fahey is very retro but let’s face it, most people are afraid to be reading those books in public because of the racy artwork. Unfortunately, that is one of the main factors the earlier Bond books did so well was the alluring artwork that is sorely missing today.

What are some of your favorite cover designs and why?

My all-time Signet favorite is Live and Let Die with a pale Mr. Big standing in front of an island in the Caribbean. Since he is considered a zombie in the book, Barye made him pale as a dead man. Second runner-up goes to Moonraker. Bantam’s series from 1969 which started with Colonel Sun was done by Frank McCarthy. The artwork is superb and daring since nudity is prominent on such covers like Goldfinger and the painted girl. Colonel Sun is a movie poster that never saw the inside of a theater. It is beautiful and it has a Sean Connery Bond on the cover, too. Interesting side note: that same artwork would be partially used for foreign posters of Never Say Never Again in 1983-84.

What sort of elements from the Bond stories did you consider when choosing imagery for your designs?

Well, I have recently found some old pulp novels and magazines through Google and started experimenting by lifting the artwork from these sources and combining them with other pulp art to get a scene or montage of scenes that would reflect the story. I borrowed from Barye Phillips, Mort Künstler, Frank McCarthy, and Robert McGinnis. Other artist from the 50s and 60s are also included, but in some cases I have no idea who they were. The fun really begins when you start to see how merging two or three sources of pulp art to get a fantastic scene from Fleming or John Gardner’s novels. I hope to do the same with Raymond Benson’s novels, I’ve already did his High Time to Kill, but I think I might do an update on it since I found some new artwork recently.

Are you also a fan of 60s spy series such as The Man From Uncle and The Avengers?

Of course, I was a young child of the 1960s and spy movies and TV shows were a dime a dozen. The Man from U.N.C.L.E, I Spy, The Avengers (with Diana Rigg), Mission: Impossible, Honey West, The Wild Wild West, and for laughs - Get Smart. I have them all on DVD and watch them regularly.

Who were some favorite characters in the world of 1960 spies and why?

Obviously James Bond, but I was a fan of Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, too. But the real draw for the 1960s spy films are the women. There is something that is so glamourous of the femme fatale of the 60s compared to today. The Bond films of late have brought back that glamour starting with Casino Royale in 2006 and more recently with Spectre, but in the 1960s you had the Matt Helm films and the Bulldog Drummond film Deadlier Than the Male. Both had sexy Elke Sommer and she was one of dozens that were just gorgeous. The comedy version of Casino Royale is flooded with beautiful women, and also the Derek Flint films.

Outside of Bond, I was a big fan of Derek Flint and James West of The Wild Wild West TV series. The Avengers was the ultimate super-mod spy series that bent the rules on almost anything, and what red-blooded young male would not dream of having Emma Peel as their sidekick. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had their legion of beautiful women including Luciana Paluzzi, who is the epitome of the 1960’s sexy enemy agent. Another spy film that is rarely mentioned is The High Commissioner with Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer. The film deals with an assassination attempt by enemy spies led by Daliah Lavi, who is another beautiful actress who ended up in numerous spy films such as The Silencers, Casino Royale '67, and Some Girls Do.

These are but one of the major ingredients to the success of those films and why I was inspired to make these faux Pan novel covers. I guess the old saying is true, sex sells.

Which of the 1960s spies (Avengers, Uncle, Bond, Prisoner, etc) had the best styles in your option re: the look of the show, the sets, costumes? 

Hands down, The Prisoner. That TV series is the best series ever produced. It may look cheap compared to today’s productions but the series has so many layers of morality and issues of freedom of speech, freedom from tyranny et al. I still watch the series to this day because I get so much out of it.

What are some of the stand-out book and poster designs for you from the world of spy/thriller film and television?

I love anything Robert McGinnis or Frank McCarthy has done in the spy realm. From the Thunderball poster campaign with the Look Up, Look Down, Look Out montage, to The Man with the Golden Gun campaign; all very clever. Bob Peak’s stylish The Spy Who Loved Me and Dan Gouzee’s Moonraker series, as well as his A View to a Kill posters series are brilliant. But my all-time favorite is the Volcano poster from You Only Live Twice- with Bond hanging upside down and the final battle happening below; a true masterpiece.

By the way, did you know that horror artist Basil Gogos added the karate men into the style “A” poster of TMWTGG? He was asked by United Artist to insert some more action into the black area around Roger Moore’s jacket. Apparently McGinnis was not available so the executives came knocking on Gogos door. It just goes to show that Hollywood doesn’t care at all if they mess up another artist’s work.

These are the sources I used to make The Living Daylights cover. If you noticed I took pieces from some sources like the rooftops in the Berlin Rooftops art. Trigger was taken from a prison magazine story and the Building had women climbing down while a Nazi soldier falls out of a window. All sources were taken from the internet.

If you could design your own secret lair, what would it look like? What features would you install?

Without a doubt it would be a hollowed-out volcano with rocket launcher and control room.

Selected Spy Vibe Posts: The Phantom Avon novels returnIan Fleming FestivalArgoman DesignSylvia Anderson R.I.P.Ken Adam R.I.P.George Martin R.I.P.The New Avengers ComicsTrina Robbins InterviewThe Phantom at 80007 MangaAvengerworld BookDiana Rigg Auto ShowThe Prisoner Audio Drama ReviewDavid McCallum novelAndre Courreges R.I.P.Who's Talking on Spy VibeUFO Blu-rayAvengers Pop Art Interview, Fergus Fleming Interview, Avengers: Alan Hayes InterviewJaz Wiseman Interview, Diana Rigg BFI InterviewCasino Royale Interview: Mike RichardsonLost Diana Rigg InterviewHonor Blackman at 90UNCLE SchoolIan Fleming Memorial, Portmeirion PhotosDoctor Who ExhibitFarewell SteedPussy Galore ReturnsDiana Rigg birthdaySherlock at 221BInvisible AgentSaint Interview: Ian DickersonSaint DoppelgängerFleming's TypewriterRare FlemingFleming's MusicIan Fleming's JapanJim Wilson Corgi InterviewFantomas DesignJohn Buss interview, Saint VolvoMod Tales InterviewAgente Secreto ComicsDanger Man Comics 2Danger Man ComicsJohn Drake ComicsDer Mann Von UNCLEGolden Margaret NolanMan From UNCLE RocksteadyPussy Galore CalypsoCynthia Lennon R.I.P.Edward Mann FashionLeonard Nimoy TributeShatner at 84Bob Morane seriesThai Bond DesignBond vs ModernismTokyo Beat 1964Feraud Mod FashionGreen Hornet MangaAvengers Interview: Michael RichardsonIan Fleming: Wicked GrinJane Bond Hong Kong RecordsRyan Heshka Interview, Comics Week: Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., Comics Week: Archie, Comics Week: Robots, Comics Week: Cold War Atomic, Comics Week: SPYMANComics Week: Jimmy OlsenShakespeare Spies: Diana RiggShakespeare Spies IRodney Marshall Avengers InterviewRichard Sala: Super-EnigmatixCold War ArchiePlayboy Bunny InterviewThe 10th Victim Japanese and KindleU.N.C.L.E. Japanese Books, Catsuits, Batman '66 Green Hornet Interview: Ralph Garman Ty Templeton.


  1. check out these new bond homage comics
    Caio Cacau artist
    comic Grimm Fairy Tales Presents: Red Agent Issue # 1b

  2. Stuart - these are amazing. Personally I always loved the old Signet versions, which I collected from my Dad's old copies and used book stores. Would love to see a Signet series for MWTGG, Octopussy, Colonel Sun and beyond. Great job - they should hire you for the next retro published versions!

  3. Stuart - these are amazing. Always loved the Signet editions and have them all. Would love to see a Signet version of MWTGG, Octopussy, Colonel Sun and beyond. Great work, they should hire you for some official retro published versions.

  4. Stuart, Fantastic PAN covers, in fact at the risk of being 'trolled' I'd say some are better than the originals. As I run a website for those that appreciate the artwork of PAN book covers (www.tikit.net) including a blog I'd love to add your covers on the site if that is OK with you. I always try to get permission where possible and not just presume it's OK. Cheers, Tim kitchen

  5. Tim, thanks for introducing me to your Pan site. Can't wait to explore. So far I really like seeing the 007 and Saint ad banners on the front page. I can check with Stuart about posting his designs. Are you connected with him already?

  6. Hi Jason, Thanks for replying so quickly. No I don't know Stuart I just found his homage covers while looking for other mashups as unfortunately Gary in Paperback Parade 93 included three such JB covers as original PAN ones! Sorry the older scans are so small but back in 1999 800 X 600 was cutting edge technology, one day I intend to rescan them. Looking forward to haring from you again. Cheers, Tim K

  7. Absolutely wonderful work.